Safety precautions in place as thousands celebrate Sailfest in New London – NBC Connecticut


With rides, boats, food and fireworks, sailing festival was in full swing on Saturday evening.

The festival has returned to New London for the first time since the start of the pandemic with plenty of celebrations, and security measures are also being fine-tuned.

New London Police said the festival ran for two days without incident.

Safety is still a major consideration after recent mass shootings, including the shooting at a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Security measures are in place to protect thousands of festival-goers.

“You’re not going to walk 25, 50 feet without seeing a uniformed officer at the site,” said Capt. Matthew Galante of the New London Police Department.

Some spectators say they are put at ease by the large police presence.

“Everywhere we looked there were military, there were police, there were people in security uniforms. I felt really comfortable,” said Margie Aston of Windham.

“There were a lot of people who made us feel really safe,” added Lauren Verge, from Windham.

This allays the concerns of New York vendors selling rum cake, who spend all three days at Sailfest.

“It was a really good presence here. I didn’t feel insecure at all because everyone has a good attitude and safety is here,” said Roosevelt Banks, of Troy, New York.

However, many still think of the 4th of July murderere filming in Illinois.

“It’s on my mind. I thought about it before coming down and it even crossed my mind a few times while we were here,” said Marjorie Butkiewicz of Rocky Hill.

New London officials expect Sailfest to draw 250,000 people over the weekend, which is why it’s an all-out effort for law enforcement.

“We received a response from our mutual aid agencies, Norwich Police, Waterford Police and Connecticut State Police assisted us,” Capt Galante said. “Plus, there’s Amtrak police there, as well as our federal partners.”

As law enforcement takes recent mass shootings into account, Captain Galante says a heavy security presence is nothing new.

“I know we’re all hyper-vigilant about this tragedy that happened in Illinois, but what I would say about it is that law enforcement needs to be prepared for the unthinkable any time we have a large-scale event like this,” he said. “I would say that in the end, yes, the preparations are there. But more than any other year? No, because we are always preparing for the unthinkable.

For safety reasons, no coolers, backpacks, strollers or pets are allowed on the waterfront.

Police are also asking the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

“I think everyone should be careful wherever they are. It’s not just here, it’s all over the world,” said Michelle Simpkins, from Windham. “Be aware of your surroundings.”


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